Blame the Sheikhs

    Jess Hill is the Middle East reporter for the Global Mail, an online newspaper offering comprehensive and nicely written features on diverse matters. You can follow her on Twitter here

    She wrote Blame the Sheikhs for the Global Mail, about the recent worsening of the social unrest that is shaking the Middle East up. Here are some interesting quotes:

    Many mainstream Muslims in the Middle East are angry about the film. But by and large, they are not the ones attending violent demonstrations. So far, the vast majority of demonstrators have issued from two groups: a small, violent fringe among the region’s Salafists, and opportunistic young men looking for an excuse to fight the police. In Egypt, a call for a million-man march on Friday, September 14, fell flat — less than 2,000 turned up, and around 350 of those tried to attack the embassy. In a country of more than 82 million, where tens of thousands regularly turn out to protest, that’s a pretty lame turnout.

    In her article, she condemns Saudia Arabia as the main exporter of extremist ideology in the arab world:

    This leads us to the elephant in the room. The country doing by far the most to promote extremist beliefs and ideas across the Middle East (and beyond) is one of America’s closest allies. Over the past 30 years, Saudi Arabia has spent more than $70 billion exporting the Wahhabi doctrine around the world, through schools, publishing houses and satellite television channels. Had it not been for the Saudi-backed Sheikh Khaled Abdallah, it’s highly likely that the film The Innocence of the Muslims would have remained an unwatched piece of trashy propaganda. But when Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti denounced attacks on diplomats and embassies as un-Islamic, he had nothing to say about the Saudi-backed sheikh and channel that provoked the attacks in the first place.